Wednesday, November 27, 2013

She Will Be Home for Christmas: Some Initial Thoughts on "The Time of the Doctor"

We didn't even get a chance to get over the brilliance of the 50th Anniversary special before the information about the Christmas special started pouring out.  First, we got a teaser trailer at the end of "The Day of the Doctor," which revealed a few key things:  Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Silence, Trenzalore.  Knowing Moffat, the inclusion of these four villains doesn't necessarily mean that any one of them is going to be a central villain.  They could all play a very small role in the episode, much like "The Pandorica Opens."  However, a recently released poster showing the Doctor holding a severed Cyberman's head in his hand suggests that, at least the Cybermen will play a major role.

That the episode takes place on Trenzalore is not a surprise to anybody who's been paying attention.    The plot of the Eleventh Doctor's final episode has been obvious since "The Wedding of River Song."  "On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered."  The Doctor's going to be on Trenzalore, in a situation where the entire planet acts as a sort of truth serum, and then he's going to be asked his name (which is, for some reason, dangerous for him to say) and this will lead to his regeneration somehow.

Then the title was released, which is "The Time of the Doctor."  This suggests that Moffat thinks of this episode as part of a sort of trilogy with the two episodes before it, "The Name of the Doctor" and "The Day of the Doctor."

Then, Moffat finally came out and said, the Doctor definitely has only 12 regenerations, not 507 (fuck you Davies!), and that he is currently out of regenerations!  Obviously, the show's going to continue as there's already another Doctor waiting on deck, but the Doctor is supposed to be out of regenerations right now and that will be addressed "head on" in the Christmas special.  His interviews have heavily implied what I've already guessed:  That he used up a regeneration in "The Stolen Earth" without actually changing his face.  The pervading fan theory seems to be that River fixed the whole thing when she gave him her remaining regenerations in "Let's Kill Hitler" (presumably that's 10 more regenerations, unless there's another River regeneration we never saw).  This seems a little obvious but, remember, every now and then with Moffat, the easy answer is the correct answer (e.g. "Who is the impossible astronaut?")

However, would this mean that River's in the Christmas Special?  Nothing has said that she will be, but I can give you a list of about 100 reasons she fucking should be.

Then came the most intriguing news, at least to me.  Irish actress Orla Brady will be appearing in the special.  Who is she?  I don't know and I don't care.  Here's the part of the announcement that entices me:

"Brady's character is someone from the Doctor's past, with the plot of the festive episode revolving around her."

She's Susan.  She's Susan, she's Susan, she's fucking Susan Fucking Foreman!  If there was a bookie who took obscure bets on Doctor Who, I'd put a lot of money down on this woman being Susan.

Show your work?  Sure.

1.  I've been saying for a long time that the Doctor's role as a father (or grandfather) is going to come around in a big, big way.  The biggest hint is the cot in "A Good Man Goes to War," which Alex Kingston (River Song) told us in a Doctor Who Confidential episode, is a big hint.  The Doctor says it's his cot, but Kingston told us that someone else slept in it.

2.  The Eleventh Doctor has had a pretty self-contained story.  I don't think Moffat wants to wait until Capaldi's Doctor or later to unravel what he's started.  Right now, it looks like the hunt for Gallifrey is the only thing set up in the Matt Smith era that's going to be resolved in the Peter Capaldi era.

3.  In "The Day of the Doctor," there's a scene where Clara takes a nice big, long look at the picture of Susan on Kate's board that she has put up in the Black Archive with all the information about the Doctor.  It's a set up for a scene where Clara acknowledges that she knows who Susan is.

Now, "The Night of the Doctor" made the audio stories officially canon, which means the Doctor has reunited with Susan since her last appearance on the show in "The Five Doctors" (presumably the most recent we've seen her in her timeline is "The Dalek Invasion of Earth").  But the show is still long overdue for the return of the first ever companion, especially since she's related to the Doctor and, therefore, should have come up in some way, shape, or form by now.

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